Smart Communities vs Smart Cities

The most usual criticism to the smart city concept is about the top-down model of deployment and the real benefits for citizens of such a technical implementation of sensors and telecommunication networks. Efficiency in public infrastructures and services is an urgent priority and a deep concern for governments and local authorities. Large technology companies are able to offer innovative solutions with their centralized and proprietary systems, reinforcing top-down models of urban planning. But the question about social sustainability raises: is this model providing a better life for citizens, creating more inclusive communities, fostering small businesses activity? Is it improving social entrepreneurship and new economic opportunities? Even more, is this model economically sustainable? In the future, will the large smart city projects be affordable without a huge public funding?

It is needed to change the strategy of growth of the smart cities introducing the concept of smart community as their basic unit of development. We are talking about small groups of dwellings in a specific area of the town, neighborhoods or even districts, where new urban developments or the renewal and maintenance of public infrastructures, utilities and other services are the opportunity to smart the city. Small projects that will gradually build the city of the future.

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